A change that has not gone unnoticed in early 2019. After years of bitter criticism of its interface, which a few name changes have not been able to catch up, Samsung has decided to start from scratch with the development of its own interface.
The result, One UI, has won everyone over in the market and opened new ways for consumers. They are now entitled to demand a complete overhaul, and one manufacturer has paid the price: Huawei.
Technical challenges to be met
EMUI (Emotion UI) is not just a design and features. It is also technology, and on this point, design specialists cannot necessarily enlighten us.
However, the main problem of EMUI is well known to all: its particularly aggressive RAM management, which tends to create problems for some applications. For example, the automatic synchronization of photos on Google Photos eventually stops working on EMUI, which automatically turns off the process to conserve battery power… even though the user wants this feature. It is also complex to cut these optimizations, so the average user will not be able to identify this problem and fix it on their own: they will blame the entire phone.
It very quickly became apparent that EMUI had a central problem: how to reconcile, or even reconcile, the expectations of Chinese consumers and those of Western users. It involves design, seeking to be minimalist being as necessary for the AI that Huawei pushes, as it is for functionality.
And in this field, there are many complications. The challenge, according to the managers, is first to select the features of the Chinese interface that will be useful to Western users. And it’s true that this is a complex task since most of Huawei’s useful features overlap with those developed by Google. We can see it in the search pushed by artificial intelligence in the Gallery application, already developed on Google Photos, or the visual search in the photo application, which Google Lens does very well.
Chinese users versus Western users
The main grievances against Huawei’s interface are about the design and interface side. First of all, a detail that we have often pointed out: the application drawer, which still opens when you press an icon in EMUI 9.
The developers explained to us that this was a deliberate fact, but it mainly affected Chinese users. In China, a downward upward movement calls Huawei’s intelligent assistant. As a result, they avoided any other movement that could go against it. In the West, this assistant is not present, but the interface inherits this will.
The same is true for the design of the interface elements. Huawei tells us that his icons, which appear to Western users to be aging, meet the design expectations of the Chinese market. The minimalist trend, which extends to the entire industry, is not expressed in the same way among Chinese and Western artists. Besides, the company is trying to reconcile two user bases: the younger ones, especially with Honor, and the older ones, who do not have the same expectations.